Determining the best places to anchor and cruise can be challenging without the proper navigational resources. If you’re using your personal computer or smartphone, there are many apps that utilize NOAA's electronic charts, where you can download the region that you will be boating around.

No matter what type of digital chart you decide to use, be sure to regularly update the program, safety hazards including sunken vessels, shifting shoals, buoy changes, etc. are continuously added. This will help prevent potential groundings and other accidents.

Before you head out on a cruise, research the harbours where you plan on staying. If available, try to use existing mooring buoys before dropping the anchor. Check out Dockwa, it’s an app that makes finding and reserving a mooring buoy or dock space easy.

If you plan to anchor, use your charts to assess bottom conditions and avoid areas that are home to sensitive or slow-growing species, such as shellfish beds, coral reefs and seagrass beds. Poor anchoring techniques can disturb or damage animals and plants on the seafloor.

Anchoring tips:

• Anchor in water deep enough to avoid grounding your vessel with the tide change.

• If possible, anchor in sand or mud.
• If anchoring ashore, avoid sand dunes and don’t tie your rope to a tree - they both protect inland areas from the destructive forces of wind and waves.

• If you revisit the same site frequently, try to anchor in the same position.

Retrieving anchor tips:

• Motor slowly toward the anchor and retrieve when the line is vertical.

• If the anchor is stuck, try to free it by hand, or disconnect it and mark the site with a buoy for a diver to retrieve later.

• Do not force the anchor free by motoring forward.

Did you know?

• There are two types of digital charts, raster and vector. Raster charts are essentially a digital picture of a paper chart, obtained through detailed scanning. Vector charts are stored as a database and drawn on the plotter screen by the software.